28 April 2007


From:that frolicsome kid
To:Whom this may concern
Date:28 April 2007, 23:19
Subject: Coming out of My Comfort Zone  

Help! How am I supposed to progress?I'm sick and tired of school. Lately, many of my friends noticed that I have been moody these past few days. I think fatigue and boredom caused it. In other words, the reluctance to pick up my books and study made me worry about how am I supposed to pass my exams with flying colours. It's nearing the middle of the year, and you know what that means. Mid-Year Examinations are just around the corner and it's that period of the year where many dread and wish they never existed.

In Science class, Mr. Z. told us about an experiment where they got this rat or mouse, and they put this rat or mouse on one side of a cage. On the other side of the cage, they put a little piece of food. And this rat or mouse would walk over to the food and eat. Then, they put the rat or mouse back on its original position, and this time, they put electricity all through the floor where the rat or mouse would have to walk to get the piece of food. They did this for a while, and the rat or mouse stopped going to get the food at a certain amount of voltage. Then, they repeated the experiment, but they replaced the food with something that gave the rat or mouse intense pleasure, but I am guessing it is some kind of rat or mouse nip. ...the rat or mouse would put up with a lot more voltage for the pleasure. Even more than for the food. [...]

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky.

Never in my life have I quoted something direct from a book I have read. Well, let's make this a first. =) It's time to put my reading comprehension to the test; inferring meanings from a passage! =P

What got me thinking was that the mouse was willing to suffer some pain in order to get the food and chomp down his reward. When the obstacle (the increased voltage) got tougher to the extent that it wasn't worth suffering to achieve the same goal, the mouse did not bother getting it after it realised how much more painful it was to step on the high voltage. The food was replaced with something that pleasures the mouse once ingested and look what happened to the mouse! It simply did not care how painful the high-voltage floor was because it knew that it would receive pleasure at the end of the painstaking journey which far compensates the pain.

One thing stands clear in this short passage - the mouse had goals. No, not complicated goals like becoming a SuperMouse or something impossible. It's a simple one, and it was willing to get out of its comfort zone, challenged itself to overcome the obstacles along the way and reaped its well-deserved rewards at the end of it. Simply put: cry first, rejoice later.

Are my goals set above my expectations? Are the obstacles I encounter while studying way out of my league? Or maybe my goals simply do not exist at all. I think that is my main problem. I tried, with limited success, the past few days trying to get my head into studying but my concentration just has to waver after a short few minutes of "intense studying", which shouldn't be called intense. I seem to be so distracted everytime when I study. I think of going online, I think of the immense amounts of homework the teachers suddenly decided to dump onto us, I think of the Macromedia Flash project competition I should try and complete and I think about the competitions I got myself involved in.

Oddly enough, the goals meme I did for myself the other day did not seem to help. In fact, I forgot about it. =( Shouldn't I be more focused on my studies since I have had already predefined my goals?

I am not serious enough. I am not willing to compromise the comforts I am enjoying now for the sake of my studies. I did not prioritise my studies. What's wrong with me? Why have I suddenly take my education lightly? It's not supposed to happen. I am supposed to study and obtain the best possible marks in exam.

No, my parents are in no way pressuring me to get good marks for *cough* them *cough*, in case you are wondering. I consider myself lucky for having such good parents. I'm doing this for my own sake. I won't do this for anyone, except for myself.

Lately, I have begun questioning my study techniques. I know it is such a bad time to question it, but I cannot help but wonder if they are going to help me in the long run.

I "study" by typing out notes for most of my subjects. I try to type out nearly all the chapters. I begin by reading through the textbook and learn the facts which I should know but wasn't covered or little emphasised in class. Once I can make heads and tails of what I have read, I open up my notebook and textbook plus supplements and I begin condensing or "summarising" the information in them into point forms. I try as much as possible not to leave out any information, no matter how minor they seem to be.

An extract of my notesAn extract of my notes
These are the notes I created from the chapter of the Urinary System.

Yes, I don't do my notes the way how my study guidebooks recommend. Instead of closing my book and trying to recall by writing down what I have learned, I open my books and copy the important points, trying to put them into my own words as much as possible. I don't pick out some important points and summarise them in as little words as possible. I take the whole big junk of information and just type them out. This makes the last-minute revisions difficult as I have to spend quite a long time trying to leaf through everything and ensuring that in that as short span of time, information can actually seep through my impermeable brain.

No, I don't read my notes until the day before or a couple of days if the subject content is really broad. And I wonder, is it worth spending my time making notes like that, and not reading them consistently?

It is my fault that I make my notes at the last minute (again!). I procrastinated because it's a very time-consuming process, and I loathe time-consuming jobs. So, I just leave everything to the last minute, and then worry about getting it done on time (forget about revising - making notes is a revision in itself, I think).

My situation currently is exactly like the mouse: Big obstacles, same goals but maybe the rewards are greater. Or it makes no difference at all. I totally have no idea. I am very hesitant to improvise my study methods, because I feel that it's a good way of revising. Well, I am speaking from a rather biased point of view, since I never really try out other methods.

Maybe I could join my legions of friends and just read from the textbook but I myself know how much I hate doing it, plus textbooks are infamous for containing large blocks of redundant paragraphs! Hey, 400 pages is no joke. I nearly fainted when katelyn sent me extracts from her piloted Chemistry textbook (thanks again!). Upon further inquiry, I discovered her textbook is twice as thick as mine.

That puts me off. I dislike reading thick books, rather surprising for an avid reader like me. That's why I avoid reading Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. =\ Their thickness just makes me want to wander to the Children Book's section!

The amount of content I have to study for the upcoming Mid-Year Examinations begins from last year until wherever we have covered so far this year. That is like three-quarters of the textbooks! =( The subjects I fear most are Biology, Geography, Computer Studies, Chemistry, Physics... Oh, make them all! =O

I haven't been getting my minimum 8 hours of sleep too nowadays and as a result, I have been getting very cranky. I snapped at my parents and my brother. I wore a gloomy face from the time I woke up to about the second period in school. It was that bad. Today was especially bad. I sulked and snapped at both my parents. I cringed at the noises at home. I'm at a very fragile state now, I could blow up anytime soon.

And what did I study for today (or rather, written notes on)? Enthalpy change. So much for progress for the day. *heaves a heavy sigh*

I don't know what to do with myself. I need to pick myself up by committing myself to my studies. So far, I've seen myself dedicating none of my drop of sweat on my studies. I can't believe there are so many distractions around me, particularly the Internet!

You know guys, for every minute of studying, there will be half an hour of relaxing. I feel so "wasted". *ugh* It's that bad! I catch myself taking opportunities to watch TV, eat as long as I can, use the PC as long as possible - just to escape studying. I know they are temporary measures, that is why I keep taking them. =(

In Geography, we have a vicious cycle of poverty. In me, there is the vicious cycle of procrastinating. In both cases, the victims are the losers, because of "uncontrollable factors".

Have I ever posted such blog posts before? I think I did. Either that, or I have thought of these ever since a long time ago.

I want good results. I want to excel in school. I don't want my tardiness and procrastination habits to drag me down. I believe I have got the potential.

I have set the mood to study. Sadly, I lack the attitude.

I wish I could turn back the clock and begin a fresh start and outlook towards revision. I wish God could grant me 30 hours in a day and bless me with the ability to not sleep, so that I can fully make use of my day. If that happens, would I still stick to my old ways, thinking that, "Oh! It's still a long time before exams loom!"?

I need to be pinpointed my mistakes. I don't know where I have gone wrong. I never feel so wrecked in my life. =(

Comments (18):

Try this as an immediate pick-me-up, paraphrased from Dr.Phil's Life Strategies Book. ;D

1. What do you want? If you could have anything in the world right now, what would it be?
2. Picture yourself having/owning that thing now - how does it make you feel?
3. That *feeling* you get - that's what you want. Make the lifestyle choices that get you that specific *feeling* into your life more and more ;)

Your notes could possibly do with further summary, a bit like cooking a sauce in a pot and reducing it into a concentrated paste.

There's a technique i used by listing down about 10 stupid keywords, usually irrelevant to the subject. e.g. dog, cat, sandpaper, zipper etc.

I then had to generate a "story" out of these words in such a way that i could easily recall every single word in it's linear sequence from the top of my head. The more crazy the connection to each word in the list, the easier it was to recall the words.

For example; The *dog* eats the *cat*, and then tries to shit it out of it's ass but it feels like *sandpaper*, so he needs a *zipper* to open up his asshole that little bit more in order to get the painful poo out.

The trick is to create a very compelling/funny/silly story that will help you remember the keyword list in it's linear sequence.

I'd then pair each paragraph/concept or keypoint in my study notes to be anchored to each word on this list.

Process of re-testing my memorisation was to kick my brain into the silly story, to then be able to list each of the words down on paper in their proper order - and then remember which study concept it was that i linked to each word.

This technique can help summarise your points into a small handful of words instead of pages and pages of writing ;) It helped me re-write an essay virtually word for word when i had only 10minutes before the exam to memorise it all ;)

It may not work for you, but the least you'll be left with is a very interesting vehicle for writing a crazy story ;)

Hey you! Man, i have learnt that the right study technique can really make the world's difference!
I had a simillar technique to you, but I used to write everything out. Thus, I HAD to summarise as much as possible or I would never have made it cause it would've taken forever if I had to write out everything.
Anyway, it helped, yes, but i only realised after school that the technique i was using was not the correct one for me. I wish i had known this earlier.
I am currently applying a new technique to my studies and it's really great.
So, I'd say it's a good idea for you to explore more techniques and find one you're comfortable with.

Take it from me: I would give anything to be back at school and really work hard etc, cause I know for a fact that my life would have been different now. (not that i'm not happy with it as it is; it just would've been allot better and closer to what i always imagined it could be)
Think of the pleasure after the pain.
It's so worth it.

Oh dear, FK, you are really in the thick of it, aren't you!

First, might I ask a question in a 'devil's advocate' way (ie putting the other side to you), because you are putting so much more pressure on yourself than your parents ever could! The question - Really, what is the worse that could happen if you fail all your exams? Will you die? Will you starve? Will you be destitute? Will you be unable to get any job whatsoever? Will you have a bad job? Will you not be able to live a 'normal' life? Will you be thrown into prison? Will you be expatriated?

...or will you feel you haven't achieved the most amazing, stupendous results on the planet?

The reason you're running away from your studies (you call it procrastination, but I call it avoidance) is most likely because you've set yourself such high goals that you are scared of not achieving them. So, you're not doing anything... a self-fulfilling prophesy... so afterwards you can say 'see, I told you I'd fail!'

Like i said before, take the pressure off yourself. Don't try and learn everything at once - it's simply not possible. Just:

Do the best you can do with what you know.

Try to know a bit more than you do now.

And then a little bit more than that.

One step at the time.


We were taught to condense a chapter onto one postcard-sized yellow card (we cut to size) with black ink. Then you can zip through them nearer the exam to give yourself reminders. It worked for me.

Good luck, FK. And for crying out loud, take the pressure off yourself !!!

Hey FK ! I've tagged you! :)

Hey r'acquel!

1. What do you want? If you could have anything in the world right now, what would it be?
Currently, to secure at least decent grades for my mid-year examinations! According to the principal, the marks I obtained will be used as my predicted grades for O Levels (together with mocks)! =O

2. Picture yourself having/owning that thing now - how does it make you feel?
I would feel good if I do well! I can smile everyday and go hyper and be proud of myself that I've done a great job. =D

3. That *feeling* you get - that's what you want. Make the lifestyle choices that get you that specific *feeling* into your life more and more ;)
Somehow, that feeling doesn't sink in. Never mind, I envision it a little bit harder. *weak smile*

Thanks for sharing your technique. Sounds like a really cool way to remember last minute facts before entering the exam hall. ;) I'll try anything to get everything into my head before the exams. =)

whenn, using study techniques which suit me does help a lot! I used to read the textbook and try to absorb as much facts as I can, and then regurgitate come exams. After reading a couple of study guides, I try writing my own notes. It does wonders, except it's very time consuming. So I switched to doing it on my PC due to lack of time (I always do it last minute =( ).

I'm afraid I don't really summarise my notes. I know this is funny in a way, but I am afraid that by summarising it, I am unable to distinguish the more important facts from the less important ones, and deep inside me, I don't fancy leaving out some facts as all of them are relevant. =S

I always ensure that my notes are as complete and concise as possible. Yeah, perfectionism. I hate it! =(

I tried mind-mapping, but it's too disorganised and messy for me.

My Christian religious knowledge teacher told the class the same thing too. It's either I suffer now and enjoy later, or enjoy now and suffer later. Oddly enough, I prefer to go for the 'enjoy now, and enjoy later' path, although it's not possible. =O

Hi annelisa! All these exams is driving me crazy and up the wall. =O

I know I put a lot on pressure on myself, so much so my parents are worried about me (and wished that my brother could care about his studies =P ).

To answer your question, I honestly never thought of it that way. All that echoes in my brain is "I will die, die, die!" if I don't do well for my exams. I hate to say this, but I don't want to disappoint anyone, especially myself. I will be terribly embarrassed should I receive all 8Us (ungraded). I will fall into depression and, and...

Well, I don't know! All I know is that I'll be angry with myself for not doing the best and I will regret. Even though it won't help much.

*sigh* I didn't know that by setting mammoth goals, I am actually setting up myself for failure. The plan will backfire and I end up as the loser. =( Yes, I am avoiding work because I am afraid to fail and I am afraid that despite my mediocre effort, I won't do well in the end. And surprisingly, I hesitate to begin the hard, hard work.

I know this is weird, but yes, I was waiting to say "I'd fail" as much as I dread saying it. =S

There's only 5 more days until exams. I guess there's nothing more I can do, except to really give it my best shot and hope for the best. It's really my fault for leaving everything to last minute (again!). I hope this will be the last time I would do this.

I hope I won't go against my promises...

Before that, I want to blog about something and visit your sites before I concentrate my efforts on revision! ;)

By the way, whenn, thanks for tagging me! I'll go check it out! =)

> Somehow, that feeling doesn't sink in. Never mind, I envision it a little bit harder. *weak smile*

=D That's ok.

My first answer was a 3bdr penthouse by Sydney Harbour. I went back to question 1 again. Then i went through the exercise over and over and over, finally worked out that what i wanted was peace.

The next day, the smell of jasmine in spring made me feel wonderful - at peace. The scent of the ocean in the air. Then an evolution of so many small beautiful things like that accumulating in my life which finally got me on my feet again ;) Got angry at the things that got in the way of my peace, made me tackle and remove many of them.

You'll find your own way ;) Seek and you shall find :)

Look, FK, I know you're worried about failing, and I suspect you almost want to fail, because then the pressure will be off. But there is a happy medium.

I was very like you, at your age, re exams. It was like I deliberately avoided working for the exams, so that if I failed/ did badly I could simply say 'well, I didn't work for them'. What happened was that I passed, but not very well. The rest of my life I've been wondering how I would've done if I'd actually worked!!

At O level, I didn't work hardly at all. I got enough grades to go on to do the A levels, but all the teachers had expected me to do so much better (like get lots of As). I got a U in Needlework... I didn't like the teacher very much... then funnily went on to making sewing very much part of my career when I had my own business. I think it's the rebellion in me!!

For A levels and my degree, it was the same... I did as little as possible to pass the courses, but that's it. I do regret that now, but you learn with experience :-S

I think what I'm trying to say is that you can be your own worst enemy. When everyone expects you to do well, you set yourself up not to, to kind of proove them wrong, but also to get them off your back... (if you aren't a big success, then they'll stop expecting you to do well... even if it's you who's doing the expecting :-S )

I'm gassing on, I know, but I'm trying to say that, if you do as much as you can from now on, then you could save your grades. I know you want to do well so you can go on to study (hey, maybe you don't! :-S) Keep in mind those goals. I won't say 'stop procrastinating', because that is your avoidance, and your perogative :-)

But I'd suggest, for your own sake, and so you don't spend the rest of your life wondering how well you could have done, that you knuckle down after these exams and show yourself what you can do.

If you fail? Do badly? So what! There's plenty of options still open to you. You really won't die. You won't be destitute. Your family won't disown you... they will still love you. You won't find the ground opens up and swallows you. Your friends will still be your friends.

Life will go on just the same, except you'll have passed the point where you've done your exams, and you'll have to make decisions based on the grades you got (or not, as the case may be. You might do something that doesn't need one single exam pass!!! Who knows!)

Anyway, I hope the exams go well for you, FK. Stay calm. Stay cool. Don't panic.

I'll be thinking of you!! Take care, and good luck!

((((((((((((((((hugs))))))))))))))))

Hey R'acquel! It looks like that exercise helps to uncover hidden motives. ;) I'll try out the exercise again and try to determine what I really want. =)

Hey annelisa! =D Deep inside me, I very slightly wish to fail, which is very odd. To be frank, people say I am academically sound.

I think what makes matters worse is that my bad habits are constantly reinforced - awarded with decent or *quite good* grades which are definitely well beyond what I expected. Even though I know I certainly don't deserve it, it somehow made me think that I can gamble with this habit and come out a winner. =\

Hehehe, I've never heard of Needlework as an academic subject. =O Then again, I can't do embroidery and sewing. =P

I rebel when teachers are horrid in their teachings too. When the teacher does not come into play, somehow I can do so much better. ;)

"I think what I'm trying to say is that you can be your own worst enemy. When everyone expects you to do well, you set yourself up not to, to kind of proove them wrong, but also to get them off your back... (if you aren't a big success, then they'll stop expecting you to do well... even if it's you who's doing the expecting :-S )"

Eerily, it makes sense - I'm subconsciously doing it. So much emphasis is placed on education and somehow, the fighter inside me to do well has slowly fizzled. My willpower is lacking. =(

Funnily, I keep forgetting about my goals and go distracted the minute temptation sinks in. I lost my focus, and I guess I need to try hard to get a grip on it.

Heck, I'm not even trying!!! =(

I guess I better buck up before it's really too late for regrets.

Thanks annelisa for the reassurances. =) I'll do my very best. I guess it's not worth entering the exam hall without doing adequate revision.

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